I’ve dubbed my husband my personal travel agent. When we travel, he researches and studies the area, with multiple trips to the library for travel books, guides and dvds on the area. We watch movies that were filmed in the city we are traveling to, if available. We watched The Bicycle Thief and The Talented Mr. Ripley before going to Rome. Before Barcelona we watched Biutiful and before leaving for Paris in September, we watched the Oscar nominated Amelie, which was thoroughly entertaining and I highly recommend.
There was so much to love about Paris, it is difficult to pick just one experience as a highlight.
We visited the Arc de Triomphe and the comedy of watching all these vehicles entering the chaos of the 6 lane, I guess it is 6 lanes since it isn’t marked, each vehicle jockeying for position, was memorable and extremely entertaining.
The same could be said for viewing the Mona Lisa at the Louvre. The sprawling palace/museum had much to offer and so much space, but the smirking lady was the main attraction. Gregg and I scooted into the back of the crowd, who were jostling and working their way slowly to the rope that kept anyone from getting too close. We quickly learned that waiting politely for our turn was not going to cut it, and were advised by several English tourists that it takes aggressive action, so we put on our hockey faces and made it to the front, so we could get a selfie with the lovely lady.
Gregg saved the Eiffel Tower for our last night in the City of Lights, and it was a wonderful finale. It was a Friday night, and the Metro was lively with street musicians working the car for a few Euros here and there, a group of teenage girls, giggling, laughing, boisterously talking over each other, and sometimes breaking into song together. The streets near the Tower had many restaurants and cafes filled with tourists and locals enjoying a meal, a beer, or glass a wine. It was a brisk, yet pleasant evening when we walked up the steps from the Metro Trocadero stop, and street vendors were out in force, displaying their wares every few feet, miniature eiffel towers that turned from yellow to blue, to pink, small flashlights that displayed a disco light affect, to name few.
Gregg chose the Trocadero stop so we could see the tower from a distance and take in the twinkling light show at the top of the hour. We entered the open plaza that opened up to the Tower just as the light show ended, so we strolled the Paris neighborhood and stopped at a local pizzeria/cafe to have dinner and a drink, as we waited for the next light show, which did not disappoint.
As we walked toward the Seine River and closer to the Tower, the area was alive with the chatter of the many people gathered to watch the spectacle, we walked past a group of ball room dancers, waltzing in the shadow of the tour. We descended down a flight of steps passing a large bridal party as they were posing for the photographer. We stopped on the bridge just short of the Tower to take a quick selfie and to enjoy this vantage point of the Tower.
Toward the beginning of our week in Paris, Gregg and I enjoyed an evening stroll through the Jewish quarters. My mind wandered to the cruelty and heartbreak that occurred in the very street I was walking. I thought about the people that lived and worked on this street during the Nazi occupation and the fear they must have felt, and my mind jumped to the refugee crisis that the European countries are currently dealing with, and I wondered if we as a society have truly moved beyond the hate that spawned the Holocaust? As we continued wandering these streets we came upon the Holocaust Museum or the Memorial de la Shoah located in the Marais district. We walked past a wall filled with names, which I assumed would be the names of French Jews who were taken from their homes and sent to concentration camps, but the plaques on the outside wall, called the Wall of Righteous, is a memorial to French non-Jews who risked their lives to save Jews during the Holocaust, who helped their Jewish neighbors in some capacity at a great threat to themselves. The names covered the wall on the city block where the museum is located. It was thousands of names…
I’m grateful we serendipitously walked by this museum and this wall. It gives me hope in humanity, that even though there can be hate, evil, destruction, as we were reminded of with the recent attacks in Paris, there are many people who will risk themselves, their comfort, even their own lives, to help a fellow human being. That is the common thread between us regardless of gender, culture, religion, nationality, we are all human, created out of love, to be loved.